European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Greece: Grand Chamber to rule on Sharia law application to inheritance dispute

A human rights judgement over the application of Sharia law to an inheritance dispute between Greek Muslims has been scheduled for the European court’s Grand Chamber.

The Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights to which the case Molla Sali v. Greece (application no. 20452/14) was allocated, announced, on 8 June, that it has relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber.

On the death of her husband, Molla Sali inherited his entire estate under the terms of a will drawn up by her late husband before a notary.

The deceased’s two sisters contested the will, on the grounds that their brother had belonged to the Thrace Muslim community and that all matters relating to his estate were therefore subject to Islamic law and to the jurisdiction of the mufti rather than to the provisions of the Greek Civil Code.

They relied in particular on the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which provided for Islamic customs and Islamic religious law to be applied to Greek nationals who were Muslims.

The two sisters’ claims were dismissed by the Greek courts at first instance and on appeal. In

In September 2011, the Thrace Court of Appeal found that the decision by the deceased, a Greek Muslim and a member of the Thrace religious minority, to request a notary to draw up a public will, determining for himself the persons to whom he wished to leave his property and the manner in which this was done, was an expression of his statutory right to have his estate disposed of after his death under the same conditions as other Greek citizens.

However, the Court of Cassation quashed that judgment on the grounds that questions of inheritance within the Muslim minority should be dealt with by the mufti in accordance with the rules of Islamic law.

However, the Court of Cassation quashed that judgment on the grounds that questions of inheritance within the Muslim minority should be dealt with by the mufti in accordance with the rules of Islamic law.

It therefore remitted the case toa different bench of the Court of Appeal for fresh consideration. On 15 December 2015 the Court of Appeal ruled that the law applicable to the deceased’s estate was Islamic religious law and that the public will in question did not produce any legal effects.

Ms Molla Sali appealed against that judgment on points of law.

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